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Notes on Revelation


And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.--Revelation 18:21

Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.--Daniel 2:31-34

And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates: And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary.--Jeremiah 51:63,64

Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.--Exodus 15:4,5

In the book of Exodus when Moses went before Pharaoh, he asked that the Israelites be permitted to go out into the wilderness to offer sacrifices. Pharaoh counters and tells Moses and Aaron to "sacrifice to your God in the land." Moses replies that it is unseemly that they sacrifice in Egypt, without going into the wilderness, because the Egyptians would stone them for sacrificing animals that they held sacred. There are instances of this preserved as in Diodorus Siculus who reports that he was an eyewitness to "a certain Roman having killed a cat, (which is an Egyptian deity), the mob rose about his house, so that neither the princes sent by the king of Egypt to entreat them, nor the common dread of the Roman name, could deliver the man from punishment, though he did it imprudently, and not on purpose" (The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible).

The Egyptians (world) are very quick to stone the Lord's prophets, apostles and anyone coming in His name and I believe the imagery of some verses in the book of Revelation depict the stoning of the world as a complete reversal of what has been happening for millennia. A brief background in Jewish customs on stoning is in order. First, the witnesses (usually two), would tie the person's hands behind their back, then throw them off a projection (usually the height of two men):

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.--Revelation 12:9

If this didn't kill the person, one of the witnesses would throw a huge stone onto the offending person's chest:

And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood.--Revelation 8:8

And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.--Revelation 18:21

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.--John 8:7

If this didn't kill them, then all Israel would come and throw stones at the person until he died.

And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.--Revelation 16:21

The weight of a talent is about 100 pounds.

People were stoned for many different reasons (see below). One of these that is particularly interesting to this study and to this website as a whole, is that an unfaithful wife was dealt with in this way. The theme of the faithful and unfaithful wife runs throughout scripture and culminates in the imagery of the book of Revelation.

God's command regarding the building of an altar in Exodus 20:25 states that the stone used is to be "natural" and no work is to be done on it or it is polluted. Only God can make a stone. This also points to the above description of what will happen to Nebuchadnezzar's dream image. It will be shattered by the Lord himself, not with something man-made, but by the hand of God himself for the "stone was cut out without hands." This also makes me think of the first stones that the ten commandments were written on. The Lord tells Moses, "Come up to me into the mount...and I will give thee tables of stone" (Exo 24:12), "written with the finger of God" (Exo 31:18). The second set, however, God tells Moses to get (Exo 34:1), and it is Moses who writes upon them (Exo 34:28). This also ties in with the many, many times where the prohibition against making idols of stone is mentioned.

Leviticus outlines some infractions that were cause for stoning:



In its natural state a stone served for a pillow (Gen 28:18) or a seat (Exo 17:12), for covering the mouth of a well (Gen 29:2) or closing the entrance to a cave (Josh 10:18; Matt 27:50, etc.). Out of it might be constructed a knife (Exo 4:25), a vessel (7:19), a mill (Deut 24:5). Above all, stone was employed in architecture. Houses (Lev 14:42), walls (Neh 4:3; Hab 2:11), towers (Gen 11:3), and especially the Temple (1 Kings 5:17, etc.). We read of foundation-stones (1 Kings 5:17), of a corner-stone (Psa 118:22), of a head-stone (Zech 4:7); and in 2 Kings 16:17 mention is made of a pavement of stone. Masonry was a regular trade (2 Sam 5:11, etc.), and stone hewing is frequently referred to (2 Kings 12:12, etc.). Belonging to the aesthetic and luxurious side of life are precious stones and the arts of cutting and graving and setting them (Exo 28:9,11; 31:5, etc.). The profusion of stone made it natural to use them as missiles. Stone-throwing might be a mark of hatred and contempt (2 Sam 16:6,13; see any newspaper account of Palestinian youth throwing stones), or the expedient of murderous intentions against which provision had to be made in legislation (Exo 21:18; Num 35:17). In war, stones were regular weapons of offence. Usually they were hurled with slings (1 Sam 17:49, 1 Chron 12:2), but, later, great stones were discharged by means of 'engines' (2 Chron 26:15). The use of stones as memorials was common. Sometimes a single large stone, at other times a heap of stones, was raised (Gen 31:45; Josh 8:29; 24:26). Akin to this was their employment to mark a boundary (Josh 15:6, etc.). In religious worship stones were employed in the forms of the pillar (Gen 28:13,22; 31:45; 35:14) and the altar.

(Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible)

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.--Acts 4:10-12

stone = rock


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